The Tar Heels finished the season 29–7, 16–2 in ACC play to finish tied for the regular season conference championship with Virginia. As the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, they advanced to the semifinals before ultimately losing to Duke. They received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region, where they advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Auburn.
In 1953, North Carolina split from the Southern Conference and became a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels won their first NCAA Championship in 1957 under fifth year head coach Frank McGuire, who led an undefeated 32-0 squad dominated by Lennie Rosenbluth and several other transplants from the New York City area to a 54-53 triple overtime victory over Wilt Chamberlain's Kansas Jayhawks. C.D. Chesley, a Washington, D.C. television producer, piped the 1957 championship game in Kansas City to a hastily created network of five stations across North Carolina—the ancestor to the current syndicated ACC football and basketball package from Raycom Sports—which helped prove pivotal in basketball becoming a craze in the state. The title game was the only triple overtime final game in championship history, which followed a triple overtime North Carolina defeat of Michigan State 74-70 the previous night.
Despite the turnaround from the year before and the NIT appearance, at the end of the season Matt Doherty was replaced as head coach by Roy Williams. Williams had served as an assistant to Smith for 11 years before leaving to spend the first 15 years of his Hall of Fame head coaching career leading Kansas to 9 conference regular season championships and four Final Fours before Smith convinced him to return home. It was hoped that Williams would restore a measure of stability to the program. Williams was UNC's third coach in six years. The two previous to Guthridge (McGuire and Smith) had covered a 45-year period.
Carolina has played 160 games in the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels have appeared in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game 11 times, and have been in a record 20 NCAA Tournament Final Fours. The Tar Heels have made it into the NCAA tournament 50 times (second-most all-time), and have amassed 123 victories (second most all-time). North Carolina also won the National Invitation Tournament in 1971, and appeared in two NIT Finals with six appearances in the NIT Tournament. Additionally, the team has been the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament 17 times, the latest being in 2019 (most #1 seeds all-time).
Smith unexpectedly retired before the start of practice for the 1997–98 season. He was succeeded by Bill Guthridge, who had been an assistant coach at the school for 30 years, the last 25 as Smith's top assistant. During Guthridge's three seasons as head coach he posted an 80–28 record, making him tied for the then-NCAA record for most wins by a coach after three seasons. The Tar Heels reached the NCAA Final Four twice, in the 1998 tournament and again in the 2000 tournament. North Carolina reached the Final Four in 2000 as an 8-seed, their lowest seeding in a Final Four appearance.
North Carolina’s championship aspirations begin and end with Cole Anthony. The blue-chip freshman has the talent to go first overall in next year’s NBA draft. Anthony is one of the best players in the country. North Carolina has thrived the last few years by having a number of impressive contributors. This season might look more like a one-man show. (The Ringer)
UNC graduate LaToya Pringle Sanders helped Washington to the 2019 WNBA Championship on Thursday. Sanders was in the starting lineup as the Mystics beat the Connecticut Sun 89-78. She is the fourth Tar Heel to win a WNBA title, following Nikki Teasley (Los Angeles, 2002), Camille Little (Seattle, 2010) and Erlana Larkins (Indiana, 2012). (GoHeels.com)
At the 2:47 mark in the first quarter, when Jazz center Tony Bradley checked into Sunday's game against the Clippers in Los Angeles, it felt like a big moment. No, it wasn’t his NBA debut. But it did kind of feel like it. For the first time, the still-young center was going to play actual meaningful NBA minutes. This wasn’t mop-up time at the end of a rout. (KSL Sports)
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo singles out safety Juan Thornhill and lineman Khalen Saunders, the Chiefs' two top defensive draft picks, as players he was particularly eager to see play in Saturday night's preseason opener against the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. "I'm really looking more for how cohesive a unit we can be," Spagnuolo said. "To me, communication and working together as a unit . . . That's as important as anything. If we don't get that squared away in the first game, it's going to be a long season."
Cole Anthony’s reaction to all his preseason hype: a shrug. “At the end of the day, from what the projections are saying, I feel I can do more than that,” he said. “I don’t want to just be first team All-ACC. I want to be Player of the Year.” Anthony walks the talk. The former Archbishop Molloy High School star is frequently in the gym late getting extra shots up. (New York Post)
Right now, Roy Williams says he’s comfortable with an eight-man rotation, and because of that, Leaky Black will be one of two players in crossover roles. Within UNC's system, the point guard is separate while the two wings and two big men each have similar responsibilities. Black will be called on to understand both the point guard and wing spots. (Heels Maven)
The early signing period is less than two weeks away, but a bevy of questions remain regarding the nation’s elite basketball recruits. We know Jalen Green and Greg Brown will wait until the spring to sign, but what about Cade Cunningham, Bryce Thompson, and Ziaire Williams? This week we look at seven of the more difficult-to-read five-star recruitments. (Rivals.com)